Spring is Coming!

In the heat of the summer start to the Presidential campaign, it’s hard to remember that we’re really still in Winter. That’s in economic terms, as the cycles of the seasons last for years rather than a few months. There’s a good reason people are as angry as they are. This Winter has been long and brutal.

Then again, as Barataria has pointed out before, things are very much warming up. Employment is up like the first tulips of Spring and most of the signs are very positive. But it doesn’t feel that way to many people. As sure as the arrival of Spring often comes with a few storms it seems darker before it all clears up.

Spring is coming. If you pause for a moment and reflect you can feel it. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to just sit around and wait. If you ask any gardener or farmer, Spring is the season with the most work. To get it done, there is no doubt that we are stronger together – that many hands make light work. More importantly, what we harvest is what we plant now. There’s a lot to do, but plenty of reasons to do it joyfully.

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Countering BS Arguments

The Republican Convention is over – but, of course, the arguments will continue. If you watched any of the speeches, especially the gloom ridden rant delivered by Donald Trump, you may be wondering about some of the horrifying statistics thrown around. Is America really in such peril, with such incredibly high unemployment and violence in the streets?

The short answer is no, not at all. We’re at a turning point, as we’ve shown many times. The long Depression which started about the year 2000 is coming to an end. We’re literally at the glass half full stage, for the optimists. It’s fairly easy to argue that it’s half empty if you’re a pessimist. But that’s not nearly good enough for those who want to spin out the gloom and/or doom.

You may run into some of these arguments in social media, a family gathering, or from the cranky guy at work who is really into talk radio. They are easy to refute if you have a few facts and figures under your belt. These are the most common and pressing arguments that everything is bad and/or worse under Obama and how they can be refuted.

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Three Views of The Economy

When the summer livin’ is easy, I enjoy sitting out on the porch with a few tunes.  Today’s lazing soundtrack was “Three Views of a Secret” by Jaco Pastorius as I went over some old posts to see if anything needed revisiting.  And this piece from July 2011 popped out as a debate that is still raging – but with some resolution.  It seemed to fit the tension that always builds in a Jaco piece.

Economists, as noted before, have widely divergent views about the economic situation and what should be done about it.  But the experiments that have been running through various economies are teaching us all a little bit along the way as to who may be right.  It’s worth revisiting.

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Forcing Investment

The dust is settling. After the various panics that rocked the early part of the year, mainly due to a slow-down in China and the developing world as a whole, Brexit put another shock to the system. Markets panicked and everyone became even more risk averse. But with just a little bit of time we can see that even more than we predicted at the start of the 2016 one thing has become obvious by mid-year – the United States is the only solid place for any kind of investment in the world.

It’s still a tough fight to get the money to where it does the most good, at the risky start-up end of the economy. And there are plenty of signs of fear running amok more generally, expressed in the price of gold. But there is little doubt that the US is the place to be – all the moreso with Brexit.

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Corporate Taxes

What is a fair corporate tax? It’s a hot political topic, but one loaded with a tremendous amount of mis-information. On the left, it’s common to cite “loopholes” which allow corporations to “offshore” profits and dodge taxes as a result of corporate lobbying. On the right, the extremely high corporate tax rate of 38%, nearly double the worldwide average, is cited as a major problem.

Both statements are greatly limited at best. US corporate tax law does not contain “loopholes” but a series of structural deficiencies derived primarily from being hopelessly antiquated. Any discussion of the tax rate misses the main issues entirely, as the definition of “profit” – more accurately, definition of “income” and “expense” – is the core issue.

Any reasonable discussion of corporate taxes has to start with the fundamentals. What is a corporation? What is profit? Who benefits? What needs to be done?

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Big Ideas Fall Apart

The dust continues to settle after the Brexit earthquake. US markets stabilized today, but it appears to be a “dead cat bounce” or a technical upturn as short positions are covered. It comes from the saying that even a dead cat will bounce up one story after falling off a ten story building. It certainly feels like that kind of week, especially if you think about whatever dead animals might account for the ridiculous hair of Donald Trump and/or Boris Johnson.

Then again, it hasn’t been a week yet.

For all the comparisons between this vote and the Trump phenom, they still don’t do this situation justice. People all over the world are recoiling from opening up markets and generally moving closer together. The threat to the EU is far from done as “euroskeptics” on the continent will certainly be emboldened – as will globalskeptics around the world. What has gone wrong?

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Brexit Blowup

The vote went for Brexit. The hounds of chaos have been unleashed. Is this a harbinger of a Trump victory in November? Political trends in the US have first shown in the UK before, with Margaret Thatcher predating Ronald Reagan and Tony Blair arriving before Bill Clinton. More importantly, the polls were as wrong on Brexit as they were on Cameron’s big win in the last Parliamentary elections. Is this a sign?

The short answer is “Yes”, but the long answer is “No”. This has a long way to play out before the US votes, and we don’t yet know what will happen. There will be a lot more anarchy in the UK and the final lesson is far from written.

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